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Who Else Wants Their Students Actively Revising For Exams And Fully Benefiting From It?

  • Category: Teaching Tips

Revision. For students, it's a laborious period spent with multiple highlighters and an avalanche of books and worksheets. Most students really struggle to immerse themselves in a good revision period and they show a real disliking to undertaking it even though the benefits are so important to their exam results. Getting a student to properly revise is by no means an easy challenge for any teacher so how do teachers get their student's engaged with revision and how can teachers enable students to fully benefit from the time they spend revising?

4 Strategies For Teaching Students How To Revise

4 Strategies For Teaching Students How To Revise

Photo credit: Romer Jed Medina via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

One of the first hurdles student face whilst revising is the fact that they simply don’t know what strategy works for them and how they can best apply it. Rebecca Alber brilliantly outlines 4 excellent revision strategies that have students enthusiastically engaged in their revision compared to feeling unwilling and unmotivated to even attempt it.

The Revision Power Hour

The Revision Power Hour

One of the biggest challenges students and teachers face with revision is the time it takes for to memorise content, improve exam technique and obtain high-quality feedback. With this in mind, teachers should encourage students to undertake a Revision Power Hours which combines all of the above making it a powerful revision strategy.

Supporting Learning Through Effective Revision Techniques

3. Supporting Learning Through Effective Revision Techniques

So many teachers encourage students to summarise texts, highlight key information and continuous re-reading. If that works for some students then, by all means, let them stick with that. However, what other effective strategies are there? Shaun Allison outlines some exceedingly effective tactics that he has tried with his year 11 students.

How To Teach Revision

How To Teach Revision

As always, The Guardian Teacher Network offers fantastic pieces of actionable advice and in this blog, their pool of education specialists discuss their top tactics for teaching effective student revision.

Creative Revision

Creative Revision

Good revision requires good resources and TeachIt has a number of innovative, eccentric and unique revision aids to help students revise.

Top 10 Revision Apps For Students

Top 10 Revision Apps For Students-min

Near enough everything in the world right now is online or mobile orientated especially with current pupils. From creating interactive mind maps, flashcards and even creating SMS stories, you can truly take revision into the digital age.

Five Ways To Bring Revision Alive

Bring Revision Alive

Ask any student if they would willingly revise. We can guarantee that the answer will be a pretty solid no. With that being said, Dean Jones from Firth Park Academy has identified a need to bring new life and a fun edge to revision which he outlines in this post.

Revision Technique Ideas

Revision Technique Ideas

Rachel Hawke is quite right when she says 'I find that it gets difficult to think of new and engaging ideas as the lessons continue and students learn in different ways'. With this in mind, Rachel has put together an interesting article on the new revision techniques she uses with her students.

Five Proven Hacks To Help Students Tackle Revision

Five Proven Hacks To Help Students Tackle Revision

We'd love to hear your suggestions on how you get your student's revising so do let us know in the comments or by getting in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

How To Survive Your NQT Year Like These Education Experts

  • Category: Teaching Tips

For many teachers, they'll have stepped back into familiar territory by returning the classroom after a fantastic summer holidays. However, they'll be a number of Newly Qualified Teachers undertaking their first role. It's both an incredibly exciting and daunting time for NQT's which is why we've scoured the web to find some absolutely amazing articles full of inspiration and advice so NQT's can hit the ground running!

The Key To A Successful NQT Year

The Key To A Successful NQT Year - Copy

Adam Speight is an award winning teacher as well as a highly successful Head of Department. In this thought-provoking article posted on Innovate My School, Adam outlines a number of highly effective and actionable strategies that can ensure NQT's every bit of success in their year.

100 Tips For NQT's

Teachers Classroom

Teacher, Writer and Presenter, Sue Cowley set herself the challenge of tweeting 100 NQT Tips before her latest release. If you're ever seeking inspiration, this is most definitely your go to post for short and easy to digest pieces of advice.

NQT Special: How to protect your wellbeing

Wellbeing In Education

Teaching is by no means an easy profession which is why we encourage educators to really focus on their wellbeing. The Education Support Partnership is a charity that solely focuses on offering support to education specialists. This article outlines a number of tips especially for NQT's as to how they can maintain their mental health and mindfulness.

Some Quick Tips for NQTs and Trainees

Quick Tips and Ideas

If you are seeking a little bit of inspiration for effective classroom strategies, preparation tips and how to deal with all aspects of behaviour, make use of all the expert tips in this useful post from Teaching Battleground.

Life as an NQT: 10 survival tips from those who've lived to tell the tale

Teaching Tips - Copy

It's always a great idea to take on board the advice of people who have been in the same boat as yourself. With tips on time management, effective planning as well as how to cope in common situations, four fantastic teachers share their tactics on surviving as an NQT.

How To Seamlessly Transition Into A School Leadership Role

  • Category: Teaching Tips

Making The Jump From One Leadership Role To The Next As we approach the end of the academic year, many of you will be thinking about new roles that you will be taking up in September. Many of those roles will have a noticeable increase in leadership responsibility. Whilst a natural transition for some, stepping up to leadership can be underestimated in its complexity and often support provided can be insufficient or ineffective. It is claimed that nearly half of transitioning leaders underperform in the first 18 months.

Whether your next teaching role is your first foray into education leadership, or if you have undertaken a fresh new career change in a new environment, make use of my 5 tips for successful job transitions to help you to hit the ground running straight away.

1. Reflect On Your Current Role

Depending on your own circumstances, the choice to leave your last teaching job may have been either an easy decision or a hard decision. Whatever your reasons for leaving, it will be helpful to reflect on your own practice as an educator in order for you make the best possible impact in your new position.

Educators are natural reflective practitioners, so I recommend that you to take the time to evaluate your successes in your current teaching role, recognise and appreciate what you have achieved through the experiences and opportunities that your role has brought. Doing so will help you to gain a full understanding of the skills and strategies you have developed and help you to identify which are most useful to you moving forward.

In addition to this, it's equally as important to determine what you might need to develop further. There is a well-quoted phrase that 'what got you here will not get you there' which highlights the need to develop the skills and strengths that will be needed for success in your new role. Take into consideration areas of your pedagogy and leadership skills needed in your new role and identify 3 skills and strengths to work on through your transition.

A firm understanding of yourself as an educator sets you in a very good frame of mind for when you undertake a new leadership position. So make this your first priority when you transition from one job to the next.

2. Celebrate Leaving

A leaving do may not be every teacher's cup of tea, but they serve an important psychological function in helping us to let go of the past and to move forward. Saying goodbye to talented and trusted colleagues acknowledges the ending of a positive phase of your career and helps you to bring a role formally to a close. It enables a celebration of your achievements that have allowed you to move to a new role, encourages acknowledgement of what you will miss and focuses you to think about what were the best parts of it, and yourself, that you want to take with you into your new role. In short, it prepares you for the change and transition that lies ahead and helps develop the resilience, confidence and self-belief that you will need to create the impact that you will be hoping for.

3. Plan and Prepare For Your First Term

Every teacher will tell you, that quality planning leads to a high standard of performance. To hit the ground running early, I urge you develop a plan for your first term in your new position. To start with, learn as much as possible about your new school. You will no doubt be aware of your school's vision and developments plans from your interview process, now is the time to revisit the commitments you made and to begin to plan how you might go about achieving these. Some research and familiarisation with operation details such as staffing structures, policies and latest outcomes and achievements could help with your thoughts and should influence your aspirations for your plan for your first term.

Once your initial research on the school is complete, it's important that you gain a full understanding of your job role. Make sure that you're fully aware of your priorities, responsibilities as well as the possible challenges you could face and how best to tackle them.

By planning for your first term you'll be able to identify some easily achievable positive impact to help you secure early wins and build trust and respect from your new colleagues.

4. Focus and Forge New Relationships

A new role will involve a myriad of new people who will be crucial to the school's success as well as your own, so it's very important to identify the key people in your new role and build strong relationships with them. Building these strong relationships will lead to your stakeholders being fully engaged and immersed in your vision, making your job as a school leader enjoyable and progressive.

As a new Head Teacher, these will include your leadership team, governors (especially the chair) and your PA. For other leadership roles focus on your leadership peer group and your team of staff.

5. Keep Your Balance and Maintain Your Wellbeing

Leading a school, a subject or a year group is an incredible privilege especially when you have a direct influence on the lives and education of students and staff. But, with this responsibility comes a great deal of demanding work and it's important that teachers maintain their work-life balance, physical and mental health as well as how other people around them can be of support. Don't be too hard on yourself in these early days especially if you have taken on a challenging situation.

To improve your wellbeing, take into consideration your own levels of physical activity, how often you spend time relaxing and enjoying a moment of solitude. There's a number of fantastic wellbeing resources available such as The Wellbeing Action Plan, so do ensure that you are taking into consideration how your role may have an effect on yourself and what you can do to manage it.

 

Lorraine Couves is a Performance Consultant, Project Manager and Change Lead who enjoys facilitating ideas generation, problem-solving and organisational development. With over 15 years' experience of educational organisations, she has helped to drive strategic change leading to improvement in outcomes, Ofsted judgements and in financial sustainability.

5 Unique Sporting Activities To Attempt For National School Sports Week

  • Category: Lesson Ideas

National School Sports Week, is a huge celebration of sport and PE in schools and takes place on the 26th to the 30th June. Created and organised by the Youth Sport Trust, National School Sports Week aims to promote student's health and fitness but more importantly, it encourages teamwork, communication and a great sense of fun.

If you haven't got any activities planned for National School Sports Week, we've compiled some of the most unique and exciting PE plans for you!

Take a look at our suggestions below!

The Coordination Course

Cone Hurdles

Coordination is key to success in any physical activity. With this lesson plan, students are able to develop and expand their Coordination through means of a stimulating obstacle course. Whether it's walking through a series of cones in a Zig-Zag pattern or shooting a basketball 5 times, students can take the utmost pleasure in this challenging but amusing lesson.

Bark Ball

Tennis Bark Ball

Bark Ball may sound like it has something to do with Animals but that's far from the case. Bark Ball is an interesting variant on the bat and ball games such as rounders and baseball as well as popular chase and flee games. Be sure to check out the fill list of instructions and the game structure from teachingideas.co.uk

The Quidditch Lesson Plan

Harry Potter Quidditch

Grab your Nimbus 2000's and your Firebolts, hit the Bludgers and catch the Golden Snitch in this fun and exciting PE game. If you or your students are avid Harry Potter fans, then this is the lesson you have been waiting for! This amusing activity aims to improve on students chasing and fleeing skills in a game that is similar to the one played in the wizarding world. This plan comes with a full list of equipment needed as well as some brilliant variations that will make the game even more engaging.

Free Running and Parkour Plan

Free Running.Parkour

Free Running and Parkour have become extremely popular in recent years with many adventurous and brave individuals undertaking extreme stunts and aerials. However, I highly doubt it would be a wise idea to encourage the attempt of these jaw-dropping feats in a classroom environment. The Free Running and Parkour plan aims to introduce safer but enjoyable Parkour moves such as vaults and rolls. Taking into consideration school equipment and resources, this sports lesson has a range of activities for outdoor and indoor lessons.

Physical Fitness Koosh Game

Koosh Ball

Sports games do not have to always take place outside. SMART Exchange have created an interesting sporting activity for Smart Board users that integrates exercise with trivia. Students take it in turns to throw a softball, bean bag, or koosh ball at the circled targets to open up a trivia question or exercise. This is a great alternative for outdoor lessons especially when there's a class of restless student and it's a wet play.

We hope you get involved with National Schools Sports Week and we would love to hear if you've tried any of our recommendations with your class. Do let us know by leaving a comment or by messaging us on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin.

My Thoughts On Every Kid Needs A Champion

  • Category: Miscellaneous

You may have seen or heard the current stereotypes surrounding teachers in the media. For example, they teach for the long holidays, and they do not have to like the children in their care. These unflattering and over exaggerated thoughts couldn't be further from the truth. As a teacher myself, we go into the profession brimming with passion and a deep desire to make a difference to the education of impressionable young individuals.

This ideology led me to stumble upon Rita Pierson's highly inspirational Ted Talk 'Every Kid Needs A Champion'.

Rita's TED Talk is rooted in her extensive experience teaching underprivileged children but it's seasoned with her abundance of energy and humour making it such an engaging and powerful video to watch and learn from!

Rita's humorous speech focuses on the sheer importance and often under-valued, need to build lasting relationships with the children in your care. As a former teacher myself, I wholeheartedly agree with her viewpoints and I feel that in an increasingly results-driven, policy ruled world, education is losing the importance of making the classroom environment a place where children are happy and feel supported, no matter what their abilities are.

As many of us will have experienced in observations concerning the "learning environment", we seem to be wholly graded on displays and not on the true nature of what "learning environment" means. Rita's ideology on how to enforce positivity in any circumstance is a welcome change to the current circumstances of education and her simple tactics on this are something I would include in my own pedagogy.

Her talk re-affirmed my central educational beliefs and it was a delight to watch and listen to someone so enthusiastic and inspiring.

I was also rather saddened to learn that Rita, unfortunately, passed away in 2013. However, her perspective on the true value of education and relationship building is such a fantastic legacy to leave behind, along with the many students she inspired from the many wonderful years she spent in the classroom.

Her sensational Ted Talk is something I would recommend every teacher watch!

We'd love to hear your thoughts on Rita's Ted Talk so do let us know in the comments or by getting in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

The Best EdTech Apps We Insist You Use In Your Classroom!

  • Category: Teaching Tips

Integrating Edtech in your lessons can have a wealth of benefits as well as making vast improvement to yourself and your student's wellbeing.

If you've been following our series of blogs, you'll know we already have some Top Tips on Improving Teacher Wellbeing.

From capturing evidence for assignments, to delivering detailed feedback and encouraging student, teacher and parent collaboration, the inclusion of Edtech is something that we highly recommend.

But where do you begin when you wish to use Edtech in your classes?

What are the best apps for teachers available?

Scroll down to view the best Edtech apps that we insist you try with your students!

 1. Kahoot!

Kahoot

Image courtesy of getkahoot.com

Kahoot is a games based learning platform that allows teachers to utilise a whole range of subject related quizzes. Students are rewarded points based upon the selection of the right answer and how fast they were able to click it. Teachers are able to create their own quizzes based upon their own lessons, making it a fantastically fun way to test student's subject knowledge. When using Kahoot to create quizzes, you can even embed images and YouTube videos to improve the retention of student knowledge.

Cost: FREE

2. Class Dojo

ClassDojo

Image courtesy of classdojo.com

If you want to reinforce positive behaviour and improve your Classroom Management strategy, we urge you to try Class Dojo. Class Dojo is an app where you can reward and deduct points for positive or negative behaviour exhibited by your students – No more will you have to put checkmarks or tallies on a board!

This highly popular Edtech app comes with its own set of behaviours such as Homework entry, contest winner etc. But, you can create your own depending on your class or whole school policy. In addition to this, other amazingly useful features include; Trendspotter (which enables teachers to see patterns in positive or negative behaviour), and private messaging between parents and teachers without the need for each other's numbers.

Cost: FREE

3. Book Creator

Bookcreator

Image courtesy of bookcreator.com

Have you ever wanted to create your own online books and resources for your colleagues or students? Now you can with the ever popular app Book Creator. This award winning app enables teachers to easily create their own books and resources with textual, image, and audio elements making this a highly desirable teaching and learning tool for teachers to utilise.

Cost: £4.99

4. Padlet

Padlet

Image courtesy of padlet.com

Padlet is an online and device based application that works in a similar manner to Pinterest where you can pin ideas, videos and documents. Padlet can be utilised by teachers to encourage student research or creating mood boards or uploading evidence in relation to a subject based topic.

Cost: FREE

5. Plickers

Plickers

Image courtesy of plickers.com

Collecting data for formative assessments is often a rather demanding task which is why we feel that Plickers is an ideal option for time stretched teachers. Plickers collects formative data in real time without the need for any device from your students. This highly praised app assigns students to a barcode which can be printed. Students then raise their cards to answer a question or give feedback whilst the app, which is downloaded on a mobile or table device, scans the room and records the results instantly.

Cost: FREE including the cards! 

6. Seesaw

Seesaw

Image courtesy of web.seesaw.me

Seesaw is one of the best Edtech apps for teachers and students and we cannot recommend it enough. The app is a student driven portfolio where they can directly document what they have learnt in classes using photos, videos, drawings, text, PDFs, and links. Teachers can easily give feedback to students and other designated class educators.

In addition to this, parents have their own version of the app where they can see their children's work and leave comments for their children and their teachers to read thus strengthening the relationship between all individuals involved.

Cost: FREE to download but Seesaw offers a variety of bespoke pricing packages for schools depending on the number of student

7. Educade

Educade

Image courtesy of educade.org

Educade is one of the new learning resource apps available however it does already have a significant number of free lesson plans. Teachers are able to make use of this resource by selecting lessons in accordance with student's grades and age as well as being able to upload and create your own resources. Lessons come with their own step by step instructions, a list of resources and reviews from other teachers.

Cost: FREE

8. Notability

Notability

Image courtesy of GingerLabs.com

Students can often find note taking a difficult and sometimes boring task. By using Notability, students are able to easily combine handwriting, photos and typing to easily capture their thoughts and learning processes. One of the bonuses of Notability is that you can easily edit and annotate PDF documents making it ideal for students who are looking to make notes on learning resources.

Cost: FREE

9. Screencast-O-Matic

Screencast O Matic

Image courtesy of screencast-o-matic.com

If you wish to record tutorials for your class or if you wish to capture evidence of your students learning and understanding, we feel that Screencast-O-Matic is the ideal app for you. This online application records your screen making it easier than ever for yourself to showcase your knowledge to your students. Teachers who have used Screencast-O-Matic have used the tool for delivering student feedback through visual recording or audio as well as encouraging students to showcase their work and discuss their though processes.

Cost: FREE

10. Google Classroom

Google Classroom

Logo's courtesy of Google and Google Classroom.

Google classroom is one of the leading multi-device education suites available. Teachers can benefit from a range of highly desirable features such as the option to collaboratively teach courses with other educators, create class assignments at the click of a button, encourage classroom discussion and the ability to offer real time feedback. Another really great advantage of using Google Classroom is that teachers can set differentiated learning activities for individual students.

For further ideas on how you can utilise differentiated learning activities in your classes, do view our guest blog on this topic from Neil Martin.

Cost: FREE for schools using Google Apps for Education.

So, that's all the Edtech apps we have for now. We hope this inspires you to try some of our suggestions in your class so do let us know if you've had any success in doing so by leaving us a comment below!

Our Top Teaching Articles For This Week - 24th April 2017

  • Category: Teaching Tips

We are completely blown away by the sheer number of education resources an teaching articles shared online and on social media.  We are so excited to share these top teaching blogs and articles that we have come across this week!

Teachers On Twitter

Logging In To Twitter On A Mobile Phone

Twitter is by far one of our favourite social networks, especially since we find many inspirational teachers and educators sharing resources, blog articles and examples of work. Erin Miller enthusiastically outlines the benefits of using Twitter as a source of inspiration and ideas and we can wholeheartedly agree with every suggestion. From using hashtags to find other likeminded individuals to making the most of reading education blogs, Erin covers all ground on how you can be a successful teacher on Twitter and we urge all of you to sign yourself up!

If you are already on Twitter or looking to join, make sure you follow us @AFlourishing!

6 Things To Get Right In Every School

TeacherHead 6 Things To Get Right In Every School

This intriguing article came up on our Twitter feed (again another reason to join!) and upon reading, I was completely immersed in the fantastic viewpoints from Tom Sherrington. Tom Sherrington is an experienced school leader and in this article, he outlines what every school needs in order to be a success.

From some great suggestions on effective staff development to resources on effective behaviour management, Tom covers a whole range of topics by his own admission are by no means the only six or necessarily the most important. But, they are all areas that it ought to be possible to plan for, taking account of research evidence and examples of effective practice across the system.

Don't Be A Perfectionist Or Else You'll Never Get Anything Done, EVER

Scott Bradlee Perfectionism

Even though this article does not come from the education sector, it is filled with so many fantastic gems of advice and guidance that will be of benefit to any teacher. Written by Scott Bradlee, the creator of the internet sensation that is Postmodern Jukebox, this terrific blog details Scott's own dealings with perfectionism and how individuals can sway from trying to maintain an idealised image of themselves and their work which can prevent them from achieving their goals.

With a vast number of articles stating that teachers are being unnecessarily hard on themselves (Finding A New Kind Of Perfect – Education Support Partnership), Scott's intelligence on the subject is a refreshing source of inspiration that will encourage teachers to break free from this occasional hindrance of a habit and to be bold enough to explore new ideas and ways of thinking.

DIY Environmental Classroom Activities

School Compost Heap with Compost Bins

Environment and Climate change has been at the forefront of many political discussions for a vast duration of time. Educate your students with these fantastic suggestions from TeachHub on how you can familiarise your students with the eco-system and how they can protect and preserve it. Many of the activities listed in this blog such as Composting, oil spill clean-up and the window garden can be taught in accordance to subjects within the National curriculum in particular Science and Food Technology.

Have you read an article that you feel should be included in our next article roundup? Let us know by getting in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin!

Back To School For Always Flourishing In Aid Of Comic Relief!

  • Category: Always Flourishing Office News

The 24th March marks the ever popular and ever humours Red Nose Day and to bring an additional element of fun to the office, the Always Flourishing team dressed up as school children!

Always Flourishing Red Nose Day Group Picture

The Always Flourishing employees donned their ties, shirts, skirts and the all-important Red Noses to bring the spirit of the school playground to the office.

If you've enjoyed seeing us be silly for charity, please head to the Comic Relief page and donate to a really great cause! Or you can text "HELP" to 70703 to donate £3.

Full text codes available on the Comic Relief website.

The Schools and Teachers Leading On Wellbeing

  • Category: Teaching Tips

As a forward thinking teaching agency within the Home Counties, we put wellbeing at the heart of everything we do. However, who are the education professionals leading on teacher wellbeing? How are they making a difference to the happiness and health of other teachers and teaching assistants? We take a look at some of the top teachers across the country and how they have been able to maximise the wellbeing of their school staff members and students?

Caseby's Casebook – The Workable Wellbeing Series

Vice Principal at an Oxford all through school. Roger Caseby has a strong interest on the link between teacher wellbeing and student outcomes. He's published a trio of blogs on how he implements wellbeing and positive mental health to his team of teachers.

1. Free tea & coffee in our staff room.

Tea and CoffeeThis is essential really, I feel it makes breaks a proper break and it's the fuel that keeps staff going in between! I've worked in schools where staff pay into a kitty for tea & coffee – it's a lot of effort for a very small sum in terms of a school budget and usually a nightmare for the colleague who has to get everyone to cough up. Chocolate biscuits also help at high pressure times and several colleagues share cake on their birthdays.

2. Considering the impact of new policies on staff wellbeing.

Change seems to be the one contestant in schools. As we plan and implement new policies and procedures it's important to consider their impact on workload and wellbeing. I have described this in more detail here.

3. Thank yous.

It only takes a moment to say thank you, but in a busy day doing so can easily slip, whether acknowledging an email response, on paper or in person. It's well worth getting into the habit of thanking people in even the routine tasks like a request for photocopying to reprographics. Use key points in the year such as the end of terms to voice appreciation or drop people a note. Performance management reviews are also an opportunity to thank colleagues for their contribution over the past year. At our Performance Development (we don't call it appraisal) day this year we picked up on idea from Cheney school, Oxford, and started a staff Thank You board where anyone can post thank you's to colleagues.

The full blog 'Workable Wellbeing' can be read here.
Workable Wellbeing 2 can be read here.
Workable Wellbeing 3 can be read here.

The Musings Of A Teaching Enthusiast

With marking, assessments and planning burning a hole in many a teacher's weekly schedule, arguably the most important part of their career centres on wellbeing. Every teacher will find challenging obstacles in their quest for a positive state of wellbeing, but I am hoping to offer some tips and ideas to help get us through the dark times and remind everyone that teaching is a fantastic career.

Start the day on a positive note

A good start to the day will help create a positive frame of mind for the challenges ahead. Why not allow yourself five or ten minutes to speak to a colleague about an interest outside of work, or sit with the children at Breakfast Club and discuss what they did the evening before. Take your mind off the day ahead for a few moments to allow breathing space before your focus is diluted to your class.

Add something new to your lessons

I challenge you to add a new idea or activity to each of your lessons. Try something new that you would not normally teach to help keep not only the children but also yourself engaged. Why not end a measuring lesson with a long jump competition? Or play battleships when teaching co-ordinates.

Access all of these wellbeing tips here.

Exeter Head

Wellbeing has deliberately been put at the centre of our School Improvement Plan. We want to be held to account for getting this right.

Our feedback policy has been revised, with the aims of reducing the time spent marking while giving children better guidance about what they need to do to improve their work. Maths feedback is now all verbal (apart from ticks and crosses showing right or wrong answers). Teachers now have more time to think about what children are really struggling with and to decide what are the best things they can do to help them, instead of writing long comments in their books and battling with the children to get them to act on them – or even read them.

Sports and ExerciseMarking of writing will now focus on how children can improve the piece of work they have just finished rather than identifying 'next steps'. Again, lots of this feedback is verbal. This should make sure the children really understand what they are being asked to do, and that they remain motivated by not being repeatedly told how their work could be better in the future.

Our PPA arrangements have changed so that teachers now have a full day every fortnight in their year teams. We have also kept our planning days – each half term year teams have a day together to plan the next half term's work. This means that teachers have four full days together every 6/7 weeks. The cost of this takes a significant part of our school improvement budget, but it is worth every penny to see the inspirational ideas the teachers come up with to deliver the curriculum.

Staff are challenging each other to take part in some form of activity outside school, and then celebrating this. September is exercise – staff are sharing their exploits on a board in the staffroom, showing how far they have run, walked, cycled or swum. People have set their own targets, and there is lots of encouragement and interest in what each other are doing. We have plans for October – possibly a bake off – and will try something new every month.

Read the full scope of Exter Head's wellbeing focus click here.

Mr W5

Teaching is tough: balancing the needs of individuals and the whole class, meeting the curriculum objectives, preparing for end of Key Stage tests, dealing with parents, carers and the demands of those running the school is an endless task. We are very good at looking after the wellbeing of pupils but rarely make time for ourselves; we need to model wellbeing and self-care to our pupils!

How?

  • 'Control the controllables' – focus on the things that you can affect.
  • Instead of trying harder, work smarter – try something different
  • Notice energisers and drainers – Think about which of your colleagues you need to spend most time around. Who brightens your day? Who inspires you and gives you new ideas? Who are the 'mood hoovers'? Who dampens your spirits?
  • Spend time with family, friends and loved ones.
  • Get outdoors – run, walk, sit and take in the beauty around you.
  • Allow yourself some 'you time' to indulge in that little guilty pleasure – watch trashy TV, read, bake, dance, sing. Be you!!
  • Be positive – make a conscious effort to see the good in every situation. There is something positive in everyday!
  • Learn to say no – sometimes you just don't need any more plates to spin!

Remember if everything gets too much, you must speak to someone!

The senior leaders in your school are there to support you and they will! If you feel that you can't speak to someone at school try your family and friends – they love you, they want you to be well – they will support you! If you feel that you need something more, speak to a medical professional!

Finally...remember how important and inspiring you are to every child in your care.

Teachers change lives but can only do so if they are fit, healthy and positive!

Discover more of Mr W's tips on wellbeing here. 

 

Flourishing In The Face Of Adversity!

  • Category: Always Flourishing Office News

Recent events at the Always Flourishing office have made the phrases “Keep Calm and Carry On” and “Accentuate The Positive” take on a new resonance…. But, true to our name we were 'Flourishing’. 

Another Water Damaged Picture Of The Always Flourishing Office

It was on a normal Monday morning when we discovered to our surprise that the Always Flourishing office had been completely flooded causing a fair bit of damage because a seemingly innocent tap from the office above had split in two!

Those who came into work that morning were quickly relocated to our Director Andy’s house and those who were on their way, were told to retreat and form what we called the Home Front. The war references abound as we certainly felt a bit of ‘blitz spirit’ as we tried to keep ‘business as usual’ in these unexpectedly challenging circumstances.

However, we would like to apologise to any of our highly valued customers and candidates who may have tried to contact us via the company number when our phone lines were down. Although, we were soon able to have our company number diverted and in no time at all, we were able to take and receive calls. With all of us scattered across various areas in Berkshire, we wouldn’t be swayed in supporting both quality teachers and the many schools we actively support in The Home Counties.

The Water Damaged Always Flourishing Office

On Day 2, the Always Flourishing team were temporarily housed in a serviced office for 1 day before making our new home at Merlin House in Theale the next day. All of us here are absolutely thrilled with our temporary office, and it should be a hit with our teachers as It is adjacent to Theale train station, has a spacious parking facility as well as a very popular canteen!

We’ll be at Merlin house for a few months and whilst we greatly miss our office in Pangbourne, we’re going to make the most of our time in Theale and continue to do our upmost best in supporting our schools and our teachers.

It’s been one very hectic and challenging journey but even in the face of adversity we are 'Always Flourishing!’

Statement from Director Vicky Nyssen,

I am so proud of how the Always Flourishing team rallied through this unexpected challenge and apologise to anybody who wasn’t able to get hold of us last Monday. However, we now fit for business in our temporary home and look forward to welcoming you to our new home.

Stories Straight From The Classroom

  • Category: Miscellaneous

To mark the end of National Story Telling Week, we asked a whole range of teachers and education professionals on what their most heartwarming, amusing and inspiring stories they have to tell. 

 

I had a student last year who would always walk into my classroom in the funniest way possible. He always brightened my morning. His face would always be beaming as I waited to see what creative way he invented to enter the room that day, making his performance all the more fun to watch. - Doug James

Triangle Maths EquipmentI was working with a bright seventh-grader on his take-home geometry work. One question asked for the perimeter of a diagrammed triangle, but only two sides of the triangle were labelled. He had no idea how to answer the question. It happened to be a right triangle, so I told him that while I was absolutely positive it wasn't the method his teacher intended him to use I could show him a way to find the missing side. We spent half an hour on the Pythagoras Theorem and he loved it. The next time I saw him I asked how he'd done. The teacher had given him full marks but was bewildered that my student had used an algebraic theorem to solve a simple addition problem. (They hadn't even covered exponents yet.) Apparently the class was supposed to find the length of the missing side of the triangle by... literally measuring it with a ruler. The student and I agreed our way was better. - Reddit User

 

Years ago, when I taught 5th and 6th grade, a girl came to me after Christmas with her brand new Sponge Bob watch on her wrist. "Miss," she said. "I think my watch is broken." She held out her wrist. "It says '8 S L'" "Here, sweetie," I responded as I unbuckled the buckle. "Let's put that on right-side up for you." - Jennelle Zarn

 

I taught English at a high school in Spain last year. We did a geography exercise where I would pronounce the English version of a country or body of water's name, and they would repeat it in unison. I came a across the Aegeon Sea, and I had no idea how to pronounce it. In my flustered confusion I tried, and said "AY-jeein sea... I think," and without hesitation everyone repeated "Aegean-Sea-I-Think." I lost it, and to this day I'm pretty sure they still don't know why. - Reddit User

 

Teacher and StudentOne of the most memorable inspiring stories I have to tell about one of my students was seeing them go from being a complete mute at the beginning of the year to a confident individual by the end of the year. It took a lot of motivation and grit and salt determination but the rewards was endless. A moral from this story would be don't be afraid to push your student out of their comfortable zone there is so much adventure and opportunities outside of their comfort zone - Miss G

 

If you've enjoyed our teacher stories for National Story Telling Week, please do follow our social network accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+

Ray Of Sunshine

  • Category: Miscellaneous

In the first of our blog posts for 'National Story Telling Week', SEN specialist teacher and therapist, Nicky Harvey relays her fond memories of a kind hearted student who flourished in an autism friendly environment. Nicky regularly shares inspiring anecdotes and teaching ideas on her blog 'The Journal Of Miss H'. You can also find Nicky on Facebook and Twitter.

"Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves." James M Barrie

Ray Of Sunshine

It's that time of year when I reflect on the past few months and make changes for the new term. One person that sticks to mind is a 10 year old boy who I've renamed Ray for this article. Ray is a sensitive, artistic and kind hearted boy on the Autistic Spectrum. He joined my class towards the end of the Spring term at a busy time last year, but slotted in perfectly. Like many children with autism, he had experienced a great deal of upheaval in life because of his diagnosis.

Autism is a developmental condition affecting how a person perceives the world around autism3them. This can include difficulties with social interactions; expressing feelings; nonverbal and verbal communication with others. There are over 700,000 people living with autism in the UK, with 2.8 million people affected in some form by the condition, and the numbers are rising.

Ray was born in south-eastern Asia, to loving parents who were pleased to have a healthy happy baby boy. Ray's parents soon discovered he behaved differently compared to other children, but assumed he was a late developer. Upon reaching school age and starting at elementary school, Ray's parents received feedback with hints of his specific learning needs and behaviour traits. The school tried their best, but due to firmly rooted cultures and learning customs, they were unable to understand, teach or effectively communicate with Ray.

After originally leaving the UK for Thailand over 10 years ago, to start a new life in the sun, Ray's parents felt they had no choice but to pack up, close the family business and return to England. His family wanted Ray to receive the education, empathy and therapeutic support he was entitled to.

"Get to know someone on the autistic spectrum and your life will truly be blessed!" Stephanie L. Parker

Upon arrival in the UK, Ray was assessed and diagnosed as a child on the autistic spectrum and was given a Statement from his local authority detailing his academic, social and therapeutic needs. He also joined a local mainstream primary school which recruited a 1:1 learning support assistant to support Ray. At first, everything seemed great because on the surface, the school wanted to offer inclusive provision for Ray to access the curriculum and participate in school activities. However, in reality, within Ray's classroom and wider school environment, the understanding of autistic behaviours and his learning style were not there.1280-Are-You-Sort-Of-A-Loser-Dont-Worry-It-Means-Youre-Probably-Really-Creative.

In the end Ray was asked to spend most of his time away from his classroom to learn in a private room with his 1:1. He would spend around 80% of his time reading books and drawing pictures alone, whilst his classmates undertook timetabled activities together throughout the school day. To make matters worse, invitations to class birthday parties and playdates began to dry up and he became more and more isolated as the years past by. Ray's parents felt he had been rejected and misunderstood by the school because he could not conform. He was simply being himself: a non-violent, inquisitive and self-conscious wide eyed boy, unable to completely read social situations.

Every day presented a new challenge for Ray's parents, who over the years constantly battled to get the school community to recognise their son's needs.

Fortunately, Ray's parents refused to give up and like many parents in similar situations, entered a lengthy legal tribunal for his transfer to a school with an autistic friendly environment. The dark cloud hoovering over Ray's education eventually lifted when his parents won their legal case. Lucky for me, Ray became our ray of sunshine when he joined school I worked in.

"Every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better." ― Steve Maraboli

Blue Sky and SunshineRay's presence was immediately felt in my class. This bright, peaceful and charming young boy could not believe his new surroundings as he looked around in amazement during his first few weeks. All of a sudden, Ray was with other children presenting their own unique traits; he had full access to the National Curriculum through multi-sensory learning; integrated therapies; and was exposed to visual timetables and SEN resources to help clarify activities and set expectations.

Understandably, because Ray had been through a lot of rejection in the past and was unable to express his feelings, he felt anxious about being not being good enough to remain in the school. He would repeatedly ask me: "Am I being a good boy?", "Can we have a class photo with me in it? or "Are you happy with me?" It was heart breaking to experience and hear his fears and vulnerability. Ray had been isolated and conditioned by educators to feel like he was misbehaving for being autistic.

Over time, with lots of support and reassurance, Ray released some of his anxieties and started to believe in his abilities. His artistic side, humour, quirky personality and kind nature began to shine. He slowly improved his social skills; and continues to be assured that it is okay to feel and express different emotions. Ray is now set to move up a class group in September and has come a long way since starting at the school.

"Never be a victim of life; be its conqueror." ― Mike Norton

I am incredibly proud to work with children like Ray. Every day I learn about what it means to go through turbulent life events at a young age, and come through it all with immense courage, inner strength, humility and a grateful heart. In Ray's case there was a fundamental lack of understanding; and insufficient special needs training at his autism2mainstream school.

Cases like this are becoming more familiar within schools. So much so, the Department for Education recently called for "a sound understanding of special educational needs" to be delivered in university training before student teachers can become qualified class teachers. This is NOT to say all mainstream schools show a disservice to children with autism because many schools provide excellent inclusive SEN learning environments. In some cases children simply cannot access mainstream because their needs are greater than what can be provided in a class of 30 kids, not because of the school.

A great deal needs to be done to raise awareness of autism and other specific learning needs within schools, communities and wider environments. This applies to the UK and internationally. After experiencing Ray's journey, I hope that one day we come to a stage in education where every child is treated equally and has the support and compassion they truly deserve.

Yours truly,
Miss H ♥

This article has been reproduced with the kind permission of Nicky Harvey. The original article can be found on 'The Journal Of Miss H'.

A Sensational Start To 2017 For Always Flourishing

  • Category: Always Flourishing Office News

A strong, enthusiastic and cohesive team of staff members is what makes Always Flourishing not only a fantastic place to work but fully able to support all of our schools and teachers.

We have such a diverse mix of illuminating personalities who each have a significant drive and passion for giving their very best to all professionals in the Education sector.

We've been incredibly lucky to secure two new fantastic consultants who will be working closely with Secondary and Independent schools across the Home Counties. But, before we introduce them to you, we'd like to announce that one of our longest serving employees and Secondary specialist, Laura Arnott has been promoted to the role of Senior Consultant.

Laura Arnott - Senior ConsultantLaura has been with the company since it was first established and has single handily developed and grown the successful secondary branch. With an innovative and fresh approach to retaining the relationship between both clients and candidates, Laura has been instrumental in creating new and exciting ways to offer her support, guidance and expertise to an array of individuals.

Laura also helped launch our launched a termly networking event 'Cover Club' for school recruitment associates as a means of discussing best practice and individual needs for organising teachers on a supply basis as well as working with agencies. The event proved so successful that they were able to replicate it in various counties within the Thames Valley.

We'd like to wish Laura the best of luck in her new position!

In addition to this, we'd like to give a warm welcome to Alex Nigbur who will be supporting Laura on the Secondary desk. He is joined by our other new recruit Sophie Appleton Wyeth who will be responsible for our Independent school division.

Alex Nigbur

Alex comes from a recruitment and customer service background and he greatly understand the needs of both candidates and clients and how to build long lasting, positive relationships. Upon joining Alex stated,

''Always Flourishing has allowed me to entwine both skills and passion to build a career that is both challenging and enjoyable. It is my desire to help other people find the correct career and calling in life and it gives me immense satisfaction knowing I have made a difference in a candidate's life but also contributing to the next generation's education'.

Sophie Appleton WyethSophie is a former teacher at Dulwich Prep London and has also worked in an international school, over a period of six years. With extensive experience covering Preparatory and Independent Secondary Schools, Sophie was and still remains passionate about facilitating the Independent Sector whole-child approach to education.

'All my experience uses the same fundamental skill; that of building and maintaining positive, meaningful relationships with people. I look forward to utilising this expertise at Always Flourishing'. We are confident that both Sophie and Alex will add another layer of success and inspiration to the Always Flourishing team. 2017 is already looking to be a fantastic year for all of us at Always Flourishing and we can't wait to see what the year holds.

If you are looking for a suitable candidate for your school or a new teaching job in some of the many areas we support, get in touch and contact us today!

Two Terrific Teacher Testimonials!

  • Category: Always Flourishing Office News

Two fantastic primary school teachers working with Always Flourishing we're recently moved to write these fantastic testimonials due to the outstanding level of care, support and career guidance from our consultants Jamie Pilling and Annie Davis.

 

Here's what our teachers had to say.

"Annie Davis is a delight to work with. She is extremely supportive and has prepped me thoroughly for job interviews, wishing me well before the interview and phoning me directly after.

She has introduced me to schools close to my home for supply work. Her encouraging, pleasant manner makes working with her a pleasure. She is one of the best teaching agents that I have worked with and I am currently registered with 5 teaching companies. Thank you Annie for what you do."

Linda - Primary Teacher - Surrey

"When I put my CV online I had around 12 different agencies contact me, saying they could find work for me. However, Jamie at Always Flourishing was the only one who listened carefully and actually took the time to get to know what I was looking for.

At the time, I was only available part time and only wanted to teach in early years and Jamie took the time to match me to the right school and arrange for me to speak to the head. I was unable to make certain days for interview due to family commitments so Jamie liaised with the school to first arrange a telephone interview, and then an interview in school on a day which I was available. I really felt that I was listened to, not just matched to any role and I am now happily working full time in the school that Jamie found for me.

During the school holidays before I began my role, I was a little anxious, but Jamie was available to answer any questions I had.

When registering with Always Flourishing there were only certain times/days that I was available and the staff at Always Flourishing strived to ensure that I was able to register at a convenient time for me."

Natalie - Early Years Teacher - Berkshire

If you are a Primary Teacher in Berkshire or Surrey and would like to receive this level of outstanding service, please submit your details to us today.

Expert Ways To Dramatically Improve Student Assessments [Guest Blog]

  • Category: Teaching Tips

Assessments in teaching are very much a firm standard in any school or education establishment. Of course, viewpoints on the effectiveness of regular assessments vary dramatically amongst teachers and education professionals but, there is no avoiding them. So, how do we make sure that we are assessing students in the most effective way and what are the current problems regarding assessments that we need to take into consideration?

Expert education blogger and experienced History Teacher, Neil Martin, offers his interesting viewpoints surrounding class based assessments and provides his insights into how best they can be improved to the benefit of both staff and pupils.

Neil regularly shares his expertise and views on the education sector on his own blog 'Actuality'  

Part 1 - Current Issues Surrounding Assessment In Teaching (Published 2016)

Part 2 - Solutions (Published 2017)

 

Part 1 - Current Issues Surrounding Assessments In Teaching

Student Completing Her Assesment

Designed by Freepik

Assessment becomes more and more important by the day. School pupils are reminded constantly about the necessity of working hard and achieving good results and government statistics on those achieving 5 good GCSE grades seem to be rolled out month on month. Testing and assessment are, of course, important and there is no getting away from it in schools.

 Nevertheless, are we assessing in the most productive way?

Is the constant push for better results actually having a negative impact on our students?

In this blog, I use History teaching as the basis for my observations, but I suspect that a teacher of any subject would identify with some of the problems and hopefully the solutions suggested.

In my experience, I would argue that we have to very careful in the way that we assess students. When I working in the maintained sector there was a requirement to demonstrate which national curriculum level students in years 7 – 9 were at and also to demonstrate that they had progressed. Termly assessments were key as well as a formal end of year exam which, it was hoped, would show improvement.

This system had its strengths, in particular, it emphasised pupil responsibility and ownership in that they were encouraged to target areas for improvement (for example one of a range of historical skills). Furthermore, this reflective element really made students read teacher comments carefully and also fully understand what exactly they needed to do in order to achieve their next level, at KS3, or a higher grade at GCSE or A level.

However, one needs to be careful with focussing too much on level descriptors as it can actually cause problems. For example, teachers end up making a best fit or 'fits all' judgement on a student's work, indeed as Burnham and Brown (2004) point out the level descriptors do not chart progression and in fact are good for only a summative assessment at the end of an academic year. Student's themselves can find level descriptors difficult to understand and also to see the point in them.

Furthermore, there is a case to suggest that with certain iterations of the A level and GCSE History syllabuses that it is possible to receive a high grade without actually knowing much historical detail; a point noted by Chapman (2011). Vague statements relating to 'attempting analysis' or 'producing simple statements' focussed mainly on skills and I am very thankful that new A levels now appear to be redressing the balance in terms of historical content.

Teaching to the test is also an area that many will be familiar with. Pressures from SLT, parents and governors mean that teachers invariably have to come up with more innovative ways of helping their students to achieve better results. I am guilty of this, increasing revision sessions and creating highly detailed scaffolding for students to follow in order to achieve the various demands of mark scheme level descriptors.

Whilst this does achieve good results, there is always a nagging feeling that students may have been rather short changed. Particularly if we take our subjects from a purely academic perspective assessment of this type stifles the creativity, flexibility and eclectic nature of excellent teaching, moreover are we doing them and the student's justice?

 

Part 2 - Solutions

Students Working On An Assesment

How can assessment be of use for students? Again I use my own subject, history, as a case study but once more I believe that many subjects would be able to identify with the solutions outlined.

An answer lies with making sure that the assessment procedures are authentic and effective. Philpot explains that assessment needs to be a regular event providing ready and understandable feedback encompassing a variety of learning styles (Philpot, 2011). Harry Torrance offers a further solution. 'Divergent assessment' emphasises the learners understanding rather than that of the agenda of the assessor (Torrance, 1998). Using this model would allow for more understanding of what the child knows, understands or can do within the subject.

This is a wholly 'child-centred approach' and focuses on how the child responds to the curriculum, prompts pupils to reflect on their own learning and results in more descriptive, qualitative feedback (Torrance, 1998). This approach allows a teacher to move away from simply teaching to the descriptor and focussing on jumping through hoops; assessment is therefore not the problem but the way it is carried out.

Nonetheless, based on this notion of authentic effective assessment it is clear that the traditional forms of teaching to the test and teaching for the test are lauded in schools. Relatively, recently Ofsted's History for all (2011) has raised concerns over the use of the National Curriculum level, pointing to some schools that apply the descriptors in a very superficial manner, the report also states that using mark schemes to help students understand how marks are awarded and how this can help them to improve (Ofsted, 2011) is somehow excellent assessment practice.

Ofsted's Good Assessment Practice in history (2008) also praises those lessons that devote significant time to discussing assessment criteria. This is not historical understanding and again shows the traditional approach of teaching to the test and a set of outcomes. Until these assessment practices are changed then understanding cannot be assessed properly.

How can we assess differently?

There have, however, been many attempts and suggestions to make assessment more rigorous and more helpful in expanding pupil understanding. More than ten years ago Chris Culpin (2002) highlighted the problems with formulaic questions, answers judged against level descriptors even going so far as to claim that the assessment model was unfit for purpose.

Culpin's suggestions ranged from a single exam board and single syllabus to more teacher control in the assessment and design of courses and a reduction on board set papers. To Culpin giving students more time to develop as historians would also allow for more rigour in the way that they were assessed. Whilst Culpin makes a strong case there are clear problems with his suggestions. Allowing students more time to prepare for assessment does not necessarily lead to better historical understanding, only that students are more prepared for the types of question they may encounter.

Student Assesments

Similarly, Cuplin suggests a modular structure to the course, again the problems highlighted earlier of teaching to a test either in terms of skills or content are clearly evident.

Mark Cottingham (2004) has experimented with methods that allow for National Curriculum levels to be used in their intended form, at the end of the key stage. Cottingham comments that there are conflicting demands in assessment at KS3, from making assessment meaningful and rigorous to using it to make a judgement based on vague level descriptors.

Cottingham draws on AFL principles to suggest the use of individual student progress sheets traffic lighting, to show understanding in key elements of the unit of work, and TARS (Teacher Assessment Record Sheet) (Cottingham, 2004). When combined the student and teacher records can be used to provide a level at the end of the key stage as progression in key areas can be charted. This is very close to Torrance's 'divergent model' of assessment and allows for the teacher and student to have a dialogue over progression and understanding. The student acts on feedback from the teacher and their own reflections and sets attainable targets for improvement.

Cottingham concludes that his approach can inform schemes of work and allow for the development of effective assessment strategies supporting pupil progress and understanding (Cottingham, 2004). Nonetheless, the AFL approach has been criticised. Kitson and Husbands (2011) suggest that many AFL strategies can work generally for History (and I would imagine other subjects) but cannot readily be used to assess more difficult concepts about nature and extent of change (Kitson & Husbands, 2011). Whilst this is a valid observation Kitson and Husbands suggest that AFL needs to be adapted to advance rather than divert subject understanding (Kitson & Husbands, 2011). I would propose that Cottingham's approach goes some way in achieving such adaptation.

In an attempt to address the problems with National Curriculum levels Jerome Freeman and Joanne Philpot have experimented widely with the use of APP (Assessing Pupil Progress). The reasoning behind this is to build holistic assessment into everyday teaching and also to gain a far deeper understanding of the individual learner's achievements (Freeman & Philpot, 2009). In practice, APP can improve curriculum planning and remove reliance on traditional testing procedures. Freeman and Philpot advocate a periodic review of evidence to build a profile of achievement based on various assessment focuses (AFs) which illustrate characteristic achievement at each National Curriculum level.

The benefits of this approach include gaining a clearer picture of achievements and progress, an emphasis on using a range of evidence that can broaden the curriculum and a secure basis for pupil tracking against National Curriculum levels (Freeman & Philpot, 2009). Additionally, APP allows for a much better understanding of levels in terms of pupil learning and progress, pupils are encouraged to identify how each lesson fits into the 'big picture'. Ultimately as Freeman and Philpot explain, 'if we want pupils to enjoy and get better at history

In practice, APP can improve curriculum planning and remove reliance on traditional testing procedures. Freeman and Philpot advocate a periodic review of evidence to build a profile of achievement based on various assessment focuses (AFs) which illustrate characteristic achievement at each National Curriculum level. The benefits of this approach include gaining a clearer picture of achievements and progress, an emphasis on using a range of evidence that can broaden the curriculum and a secure basis for pupil tracking against National Curriculum levels (Freeman & Philpot, 2009).

Additionally, APP allows for a much better understanding of levels in terms of pupil learning and progress, pupils are encouraged to identify how each lesson fits into the 'big picture'. Ultimately as Freeman and Philpot explain, 'if we want pupils to enjoy and get better at history than holistic assessment is a step in the right direction' (Freeman & Philpot, 2009, p. 13). This approach fits well with Torrance's divergent model and allows pupils to see where their learning is heading, without a loss of understanding.

Many practitioners have suggested moving from the traditionally written assessment in order to truly measure historical understanding. Matt Stanford's (2008) work on non-verbal assessment highlights the refreshing way that pupils can be assessed differently. By combining setting pupils the task of completing an enquiry question with a piece of art Stanford encouraged students to demonstrate their understanding of the renaissance in a truly unique way.

A key area of planning was in giving students a sense of period that 'would allow them to contextualise the subsequent historical knowledge' (Stanford, 2008, p. 6). This was achieved through an enquiry of eight lessons and the final task that would be assessed. Not only were students demonstrating their knowledge of historical content, but because this was a practical assessment they were also demonstrating their understanding of artistic techniques of the period.

Student Assessments

This, surely, demonstrates a far better understanding of the Renaissance than simply learning about different artists and allows all students to more readily demonstrate their understanding. Stanford himself notes that this should not replace more traditional written and oral assessments but to use it will allow a teacher to gain more of an 'understanding of what the student knows' (Stanford, 2008, p. 11). From this broader understanding, assessment criteria can be better achieved.

Fulard and Dacey (2008) take yet another approach to assessment. Their approach was developed from the belief that the limits of essay writing were becoming more and more obvious; speaking and listening seemed to offer a solution (Fullard & Dacey, 2008). Through an integration of National Curriculum levels into concepts and processes, Fullard and Dacey hoped to launch progression to A level at KS3 rather than have pupil ability reduced at GCSE. Pupils developed debating skills through various enquiries and were assessed on their ability to pursue a full debate in class as well as the notes they took and questions they asked.

The results were pleasing demonstrating, at least for high ability students, that this different type of assessment can be adequately deployed. However, some students made inadequate use of the preparation stages and failed to grasp the underlying concepts of causal reasoning. Fullard and Dacey admit that 'speaking and listening is not the answer but it is part of the answer to the problem of assessment' (Fullard & Dacey, 2008, p. 29)

Clearly, if the assessment is to be of use then it has to be valid, reliable, authentic and robust. Assessment or measuring needs to take an integral place in the classroom and be part of everyday planning, teaching and learning. Torrance's (1998) divergent model has been a driving factor more recently and some those better methods that have been developed over the last decade show a clear correlation to this assessment type. It is clear that assessment needs to have the individual learner placed at its centre and that a dialogue needs to exist between teacher and learner in order for that learner to progress in their historical understanding.

Most importantly, however, is that the concept of assessment or measuring is not the problem rather it is the way that the assessment is undertaken. A more eclectic approach is vital if the subject is to be accessible for all students and for those students to succeed as demonstrated by Stanford (2008) and Fullard and Dacey (2008). Teachers should not be afraid of attempting a different kind of assessment especially if that assessment or measuring can assist in pupil understanding and should take the time to do so and learn from the results.

References

Burnham, S., & Brown, G. (2004, June). Assessment without level descriptors. Teaching History(115), pp. 5-13.
Chapman, A. (2011). The history curriculum 16 - 19. In I. Davies (Ed.), Debates in History Teaching (pp. 46 - 55). Oxford: Routledge.
Cottingham, M. (2004, June). Dr Black Box or how I learned to stop worrying and love assessment. Teaching History, pp. 16-22.
Culpin, C. (2002, December). Why we must change history GCSE. Teaching History, pp. 6-9.
Freeman, J., & Philpot, J. (2009, December). Assessing Pupil Progress: Transforming teacher assessment in KS3 history. Teaching History, pp. 4-13.
Fullard, G., & Dacey, K. (2008, June). Holistic assessment through speaking and listening: an experiment with causal reasoning and evidential thinking in year 8. Teaching History, pp. 25-29.
Kitson, A., & Husbands, C. (2011). Teaching and Learning History 11-18. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Ofsted. (2011). History for all. Retrieved March 16, 2013, from Ofsted: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/history-for-all
Philpot, J. (2011). Assessment. In I. Davies (Ed.), Debates in History Teaching (pp. 261 - 272). Oxford: Routledge.
Stanford, M. (2008, March). Redrawing the Renaissance: non-verbal assessment in year 7. Teaching History, pp. 4-11.
Torrance, H. (1998). Investigating Formative Assessment: Teaching, Learning and Assessment in the Classroom. Buckingham: Open University Press.

We'd be really eager to know your thoughts and viewpoints on assessment in education so do leave us a comment below or by contacting us on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

Lesson Plan Roundup: Bonfire Night Lesson Ideas

  • Category: Lesson Ideas

Ensure your students remember the 5th of November with these fantastic Bonfire Night Lesson plans. We've scoured the web to bring you the very best Primary and Secondary Firework Night lesson ideas for you to use with your students to make your lessons go with a bang!

Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night lesson plan

Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night Lesson PlanThis great lesson plan from Parliament.UK fantastically explains the history of Bonfire Night and its direct links with Parliament. Students are able to discuss and explore the motivations Guy Fawkes and his team and view the story from more than one point of view.

Download This Free KS1 & KS2 Lesson Plan

Bonfire Night In The UK

This versatile lesson idea has a great focus on developing reading, speaking and pronunciation skills as well as how students can develop effective questions. This 5th of November lesson plan also contains elements of Home Economics / Food Technology as students will design a Bonfire Night menu.

Utilise This Lesson Plan Here

Firework Safety

Lesson Plan Roundup Bonfire NightAlthough not strictly a lesson plan, these points should be highly emphasised across all students on Fireworks night. Fireworks night is an exciting and special time but it's not without any risk of danger. Ensuring student's stay safe and know the dangers of Fireworks is something that should be emphasised in any lessons on this topic.

Download These Firework Safety Tips

KS2 Combined Calculations Bonfire Night PowerPoint

This Twinkl resource provides some combined calculations multi-step word problems based around the theme of fireworks, Bonfire Night and Guy Fawkes which enables students to have a greater understanding of Maths in a real life situation.

Obtain This Bonfire Night Calculations Resource

Guest Blog: Differentiated Learning Activities In The Classroom

  • Category: Teaching Tips

In the second of our guest blog series, experienced History Teacher, Neil Martin discusses how to create and utilise differentiated learning activities in the classrooom Neil regularly blogs on his own website Actuality which offers expert insights into many education viewpoints. 

 

Differentiation In The Classroom

Over the course of my career I have taught both set and mixed ability classes. Both have their merits, set classes allow for a standardisation of pace (accelerated for the highly able for example allowing for stretching and less restriction with regard to content) and mixed ability allow for a range of interpretations to be brought to a lesson as well as allowing students to act as enablers for the success of their peers. Nevertheless, within each example there is still a range of ability and differentiation is always an element of planning that needs to be considered.

But what do we mean by differentiation?

In a broad sense differentiation meeting the needs of individual pupils so that they can learn. This not only means addressing the needs of those with SPLD but also those higher ability students.

Does differentiation mean different?

Richard Harris (Associate Professor Director of Teaching and Learning, Reading University) suggests that instead of attempting to slim down the curriculum by giving SPLD students easier material or indeed, simply giving the best students extension material we can allow all to succeed by following three clear principles when planning our lessons (Harris, 2005).

1 – Make the work engaging 2 – Make the work accessible but challenging 3 – Decide where you want to plan obstacles

What does this mean in practice?

Sensible planning; in essence that allows every student to learn appropriately no matter what their ability. Suggestions as to how each principle could be demonstrated in a lesson are as follows.

1 – Make the work engaging

For example:

  • A suitable narrative as an introduction to a particular topic
  • Art as a way of introducing a key historical concept – cause and consequence, change and continuity, significance
  • A foreign language news article relating to current events in the UK
  • An overarching Historical Enquiry
  • Physical history – props and artefacts
  • Revealing learning objectives later on in a lesson
  • Code breaking to discover learning objectives
  • Testing knowledge and ability with a tricky problem as students begin a lesson

The list could be endless; Harris concludes by explaining that enthusiasm and puzzlement are crucial, deliberately building up to what you want to do (Harris, 2005).

2 – Make the work accessible but challenging

At times I imagine that we are concerned that if pupils are not writing they are not learning. Nevertheless, pupils can still exercise and develop their analytical skills by not putting pen to paper. As educators it is vitally important that we consider a range of approaches. This in turn enables all forms of learner to achieve (audio, visual, kinaesthetic) and also promotes variety in the teacher's range of delivery.

Some further suggestions:

  • Using contradictory evidence to produce an account of an event.
  • Physically walking through a maths problem.
  • Visual images that can be used to pursue 'layers of inference'.
  • Presentation work as an end result focussed on points of certainty, probability and doubt.

3 – Decide where you want to place the obstacles

Within this element we are encouraged to consider the outcomes of our lessons; we can decide what to leave in and leave out. For example:

  • Considering the amount of quality writing that we want pupils to complete to consolidate their learning.
  • Using difficult text and employing methods such as reading it out dramatically together, identifying and addressing tone.
  • Highlight tricky words then use ICT with pupils to define those key words.
  • Summarising also presents a solution to difficult text or problems, especially if pupils are given a limit to that summary. This is a technique that can be built on as the pupils become more familiar with having to address more and more complex themes and lengthier articles.

Does differentiation matter?

In essence, yes it does matter, but, it is important not see differentiation as an obstacle to planning. See it more as opportunistic from a student and teacher perspective. Differentiation unlocks so much potential in the classroom and can offer the student a platform for future success and the foundation for achievement. For the teacher it expands and improves a repertoire promotes self-reflection and analysis of one's lessons and indeed one's students. So perhaps when you are planning your next lesson think outside the box a little and be different!

Bibliography
Harris, R. (2005). Does Differentiation have to mean different? Teaching History, 118, 5 - 12.

5 Amazing Reasons To Celebrate World Teacher Day

  • Category: Miscellaneous

World Teachers DayTeachers across the world have reason to celebrate as October the 5th marks World Teacher Day! Teachers are without a doubt some of the most inspirational, important and influential figures across the globe and great teachers have the capabilities of unleashing a wealth of wisdom that is soaked up by students. In this blog we take a look at why teacher and all the efforts they make should be celebrated by all!

1. Teachers are Inspirational

There's no question about it, teachers ARE inspirational. They give hope when students feel that all is lost and they give their time and effort into helping you reach every single one of their student's goals. Teachers offer their wisdom, expertise and passion in order to help their students enjoy learning and get the very best out of spending most of their day in school.

2. Teachers work hard.... Very, very hard.

Teachers don't stop when the bell rings at the end of the day. There's after school revision sessions, planning next terms exciting lessons and making sure pupils get appropriate feedback in order to progress and that's just scratching the surface of it! Teachers often bring masses of work home with them just so they can give their all to make a real difference to the kids in their class.

3. Teachers care ever so much.

They don't just care about grades or how well their pupils doing in lessons, they take a genuine interest in the lives of their students. Fantastic teachers show so much interest into life outside of the classroom especially when there students are concerned. Some teachers even go out of their way to support students in there extracurricular activities.

4. Teachers teach more than their subject

You kind of guessed that teachers obviously teach, but have you ever considered that teachers teach so much more than their own subject or specialism? Values, manners, behaviour, self-discipline and how to be kind are at the heart of every teacher's lesson. 

5. Teachers shape the future of every single one of their students' lives.

Without someone to guide, inspire and care, where would some of the world's greatest, leaders, celebrities and stars be? Maya Angelou, the highly renowned author whose work has been read and idolised by both children and adult alike may never have been able to produce the stunning pieces of literature that she did if it weren't for her neighbour turned teacher, Mrs Flowers. Mrs Flowers encouraged her to read, taking her to the library and telling her to read every book within the small room. As she read, Angelou found a love of poetry, a love that was deepened as Mrs. Flowers had her come to her house and read to her, so that Angelou could really learn to love poetry as she spoke it aloud. – Source: Online Universities

Whether you have a family member or friend who is currently a teacher of if you have a colleague who is in this brilliant profession, do make the effort to thank them for the contributions they make to the lives of every student. Teachers, we salute you!

Guest Blog: Stressed By Grammar?

  • Category: Teaching Tips

Does a focus on spelling, punctuation and grammar destroy creativity?

How to use grammar to enhance creativity, rather than detracting from it This current debate is never far from the primary school staffroom agenda. It's an interesting question, which never sits easy with those of us reclining on the least populated side of the fence. The side which says 'it shouldn't – and if it does, we need to do something about it.

I do, of course, totally understand where this perception comes from. The grammar test at the end of Key Stage 2 is totally 'Gradgrind' in its approach – learn the facts and prove that you know them. Drill, drill, drill to learn them; revise, revise, revise to recall them; fill in the correct box and get the mark. Children are then expected to successfully apply these skills in their writing, assessed by their teachers following 'guidance' they have been given; guidance that will undoubtedly be changed yet again in this turbulent world of assessment. I firmly believe it is the slavish teaching to this checklist (particularly by teachers who lack confidence in their subject knowledge) that risks destroying young children's love of writing before they have even begun, masking their imagination behind an opaque veil of fronted adverbials, antonyms and an overwhelming, stagnant heap of success criteria.

Our challenge is to enable our young people to achieve mastery of grammar as early as possible, at a sensibly graduated pace and level relevant to their maturity – within this firm foundation, high quality teaching should, indeed must, allow their creativity to take flight. Children need grammar so they can make choices about how to use language to their own ends. What we absolutely do not want is to be faced by a year four class asserting (as they did to me at the start of this term), that the first sentence of their holiday recount really should begin with the word 'amazingly'...

Reassuringly, the very next day I was inspired by an outstanding workshop at The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Teller Centre, where our Year 5 children sat entranced as they heard of the process behind the great author's swashboggling inventiveness. The interactive tasks within the centre re-lit the flame of imagination which, in these days of screen passivity, risks being dampened for an entire generation and beyond. Every child embraced dressing up, developing new characters, creating a film script and jotting down ideas in their writer notebooks – a skill which our school embraced further when we took our gifted key stage 2 writers to a workshop at Buckingham Palace, where they explored various art works as sources of inspiration, guided by a published author.

A recent article by David Crystal confirms what all education professionals already know – good grammar is essential when related to meaning; get it wrong and your audience may well misunderstand what you're trying to say. As the notebook I recently bought my nephew states so succinctly on the front cover: Grammar is about knowing the difference between your rubbish and you're rubbish.

But where David goes further is by using an example that confirms exactly why good understanding of grammar supports creativity and freedom of expression. It should not, and does not, destroy it. When you take this stance, language comes alive as we teach how to use it to manipulate writing – what a privilege it is to explore this in the creative classroom through encouraging children to analyse the writing of their favourite author, in this case Terry Pratchett's positioning of adjectives in this sentence from 'The Carpet People'.

'He saw the gleam of ten thousand eyes, green, red and white.'

Enabling mastery of grammar is our challenge as educators, without compromising on a rich, vivid, creative curriculum that brings language alive, feeds the imagination and discovers meaning in our communications. Exploring writers' techniques, broadening reading, investigating vocabulary, embracing a range of experiences, writing for a purpose, developing a love of learning - this is our mission. Amazingly, if we get the balance right, our young writers will fly.

Keep up with the very latest education news, job opportunities and inspirational articles by following Always Flourishing on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google+

Copyright: Debbie Rainer
Deputy Head Teacher
St Anthony's Catholic Primary School and Nursery, Slough

Practical Guide: Keep Your Teacher Wellbeing In Check

  • Category: Teaching Tips

Our Primary recruitment consultant and former KS1 Primary Teacher, Annie Davis, explains the necessary actions to be implemented to ensure school staff wellbeing remains a priority.

Looking back on my time in the classroom, it's clear to see that I actually prioritised my wellbeing, happiness and mental health as a teacher. Again being a teacher, I learnt most of these wellbeing ideas from my own personal experience which I am very excited to share!

1. Limit the time spent on one activity.

Make Time For You As A TeacherDuring my tenure as a Primary teacher, I knew of colleagues who would spend hours upon hours trying to complete the myriad of tasks we teachers face. I myself would be found in the early hours of the morning completing the usual mix of marking, planning and data inputting that is required of every teacher. I wanted to give my students my all so they would have the best lessons and the best feedback possible.

Looking back, I would sometimes spend too much time on one lesson, so I became short sighted to the fact I had a weeks-worth of lessons to plan!

After realising this was probably not the best tactic, I decided to limit the time on each task in order to complete more lesson plans to a good quality rather than just having one amazing lesson plan and the rest all average. It's not easy by any standard and there times when a little extra planning is required but all in all my priorities were in place and because I wasn't so drained and stressed, the students got the very best out of me!

2. Not every day is going to be a good one.

We all have bad days; sometimes a lesson does not go entirely to plan or you can be dealing with poor concentration or bad behaviour. There was this one lesson when a student with EBSD, who had been fantastically behaved prior to this, decided to walk out of my classroom in full view of the executive head who was observing! This one incident resulted in additional worries and doubts about my capabilities as a Primary Teacher even though this incident was a complete one off.

Rather than worry about this one shortcoming, my actions as a teacher were sensationally put into perspective by the child's parent who, at the end of the year, wrote me a beautiful letter saying how I had developed such a fantastic relationship with him, how my support was thoroughly appreciated and that I had made such a positive difference to her son as a teacher.

When you are teacher having one of those bad days, take a moment to think, have you made a difference as a teacher? Have you always tried to do everything you can by your students? If the answer to both these questions is yes, then you're doing amazingly well! Both good and bad days come in waves so it won't be long until your back to feeling on top again.

3. You can't complete everything.

Week in week out, we have a mountain of work that needs completing from data entry, student reports and the dreaded Primary SATS. This workload is enough to stretch anyone. At times I would often isolate myself in the hopes of having the necessary space in order to complete everything on my to-do list.

I've learnt that as a teacher you are never going to finish everything and the only way I did not develop an unhealthy mind-set is to think about what I have achieved in rather than what's been left on the back burner. I was also advised, as a trainee teacher, to make something known as a "ta-daa" list when, upon completing a task, I would find a way to reward myself by saying "ta-daa!"

4. Make Time For You!

Yoga and WellbeingI'm pretty sure you have all heard this piece of advice more than once. But seriously, it is advice that is so worth sharing and undertaking.

After a long and draining day, I would often find myself taking solace in my second passion, music. Once a week on a Thursday I would leave school at a reasonable time and head to Reading to participate in a local steel pan group rehearsal. I absolutely love playing music since it helps me to forget all of my pent up stresses and worries and just enjoy the moment.

Also, I was lucky enough to take up yoga which was provided by my former school. Yoga was so calming and exercising is a well-known way to relieve stress.

Make the time to indulge yourself in a hobby whether that be sport, music, dancing or just simply relaxing by reading a book or watching some tele. It gives you that all important mental break that enables you to feel refreshed and ready to take on any additional work you have to do.

I urge all of you to try and implement these wellbeing ideas ready for when you return to the classroom in September. Even if they seem difficult to follow when you are really busy, I can guarantee that it will make all the difference!

Further Resources

If you are looking for additional tips on improving your wellbeing as a teacher, please head to the following sites.

How Teachers Can Help Students on A Level and GCSE Results Day

  • Category: Teaching Tips

Enabling Students to Survive GCSE and A Level Results DayThe long awaited A Level results day on the 18th of this month and GCSE's on the 24th and we can guarantee it's been penned in the diary by many teachers and students alike. Students across the country will be anxiously opening an envelope which can determine so many aspects of their future. We take a look teachers can do to make sure students survive this highly anticipated day.

Ensure you're GCSE and A Level students know and realise this...

Whether they achieve the grade they want or if they unfortunately don't, their results are only a reflection of how well they did in the exam. Teachers all know that exams can't measure how kind they are, whether they are skilled at tennis, or how they are just a joy to teach. Of course grades are hugely important but if your students have a desire to achieve and a passion to learn, they will achieve ANYTHING they set their minds too and we hope you reiterate this with them on the day.

Be a Shoulder to Cry On

There will no doubt be tears shed on results day both of happiness and disappointment. Organise a quiet and private area for students or teachers to express their emotions away from unwanted eyes. Once a student has had time to digest their results, gently reassure them of the many other options available. It's best not to press for an immediate decision of an alternative route just yet so give your students something they can take away and explore at a later stage.

Use your 'Know How'

Whether this is your first year of GCSE or A Level results, you will know what students need to do in order to get the next stage of education. Whether a student has met or exceeded their target grades or if they have not, you will be briefed on how you can offer your advice on the next steps whether that be resitting, deferring for a year. If you do find yourself slightly at a loss, talk to your senior manager on how best you can support your students through this period.

Praise, Praise, Praise

After countless months planning, revising and undertaking a myriad of exams across many subjects, you students rightly deserve every ounce of praise you can give for the sheer hard work they have put in over the exam season. Congratulate them. Celebrate with them. Take Selfies with Them. Share a hug with them. We all know that you as a teacher have put in a significant amount of work and by praising your student's, they will be hugely grateful for the contribution you have made!

Say Goodbye

In some cases, results day is the last time you will see some of your students. Even though the main focus of the day is to support your GCSE or A Level students through the next part of their academic career, do make the effort to say goodbye and thank them for being your students.

3 Reasons Why Cooking Should Be Compulsory in Schools

  • Category: Teaching Tips

With a recent survey from The Times highlighting that young people are overspending on takeaways more than any other age group as well as only knowing on average 4 recipes, we take a look into how an increase in exposure to the culinary could have a significant benefit.

BBC's Good Food magazine revealed that 16-24 years old are spending £63.65 on food per week. In comparison to this, adults are typically spending £57.30. Could this spend be combatted by students learning the fundamental basics in cooking? We very much agree so!

 

3 Reasons Why Cooking Should Be Compulsory in Schools

1. Essential Life skill

The art of basic cookery is an essential life skill that too few teenage students are capable of doing. Many students resort to expensive ready meals that offer little nutritional value and a heap load of calories, fats, salts and sugars. According to one study, students lack confidence and knowledge in the kitchen and this has resulted in them showing little desire or interest in cooking their own meals.

By making Food technology compulsory, students will have the relevant guidance and motivation to plan, prepare and produce their own meals and with basic kitchen skills mastered, we can hopefully assume that more and more teenagers will be active cooks within their own home kitchen.

2. Promotes a Healthy Lifestyle

There's no denying that take away such as McDonalds, Dominos and KFC are popular for students, there is also no escaping the fact they serve some of the unhealthiest food available at significantly low prices! Just one slice of Domino's Pepperoni Pizza contains 310 calories and 16 grams of fat with just 8 slices totalling to 2,480 calories and 128 grams of fat!

Food Technology in particular Home Economics enables students to understand the nutritional breakdown of foods and which nutrients the body needs in order to function properly. After students have understood minerals, vitamins and nutrients teachers can encourage them to create alternative substitutes for ready meals and popular take outs!

3. Uncover a Talent or Potential Career Opportunity

With students exposed to cooking and baking, there is the increasing potential for students to discover a hidden culinary talent as well as the idea of working within the catering and hospitality industry. The introduction of students to the catering industry was noted in Jamie Oliver's five-part documentary, Jamie's Kitchen, in which unemployed and outspoken youths were trained by the celebrity chef. The outcome of this documentary led to many of the teens working in some of London's best restaurants as well as one individual, Kerry – Ann Dunlop, releasing a cookery book to much success.

These reasons alone prove that Food Technology and Cookery should become compulsory in education across all ages and schools within the UK. Here's hoping that schools take note and include this subject across the curriculum.

 

Exciting Activities For Teachers To Do In The Summer Holidays!

  • Category: Miscellaneous

The 6 weeks holidays are just around the bend and teachers and students will be taking some much needed time of away from the classroom. Naturally, the summer holidays have a tendency to fly by and become a distant memory by September, so here are some fantastic ideas to enable you to make the most of your well-earned break!

Have Some Much Needed Me Time

Relax

Fully relax and unwind this summer with an array of soothing and peaceful activities. Be sure to fully recharge yourself ready for the new school year with these suggestions

  • Spend the day in bed – Curl up in a blanket, open the DVD boxset and spend the day totally immersed in quality films or TV.
  • Book a Spa treatment – Head to your local spa and try out the many treatments they have from floatation therapy, massages and facials.
  • Meditate – Evidence suggest that two sessions of meditation daily can relive stress and depression.
  • Read a book – Uncover the likes of J.K Rowling, Stephen King and countless other authors. Find a quite spot and let the pages turn. If you're feeling ambitious you could even have a go at writing your own material!

Try A New Hobby

Try a New Hobby

We understand that teachers can sometimes struggle in keeping up a hobby as well as working in a worthwhile profession. The 6 weeks summer holidays are the perfect time to discover a new interest and here are some we have suggested below.

  • Attend a cookery class – Inspired by the likes of Jamie Oliver and Mary Berry? Look for a local cookery class and hone your skills in the kitchen. There are many to styles and cuisines to suit you and your tastes.
  • Get Dancing – If you enjoy watching shows like Strictly Come Dancing or popular dance films like Step Up, why not give your local schools dance classes a try? Dancing is an amazing activity that burns calories, enables you to socialise with others and improves your overall fitness.
  • Make Music – Everyone takes comfort and enjoyment in music but imagine the possibility of creating your own unique sound. Why not have a got a trying a new instrument. From the double bass all the way to the bassoon there's an instrument for everyone.

Embrace The Outdoors

Embrace The Outdoors

Now that you're out the classroom, you can make the most of the potentially good weather the UK has to offer. Make sure you don't spend all your time indoors by trying these outdoors activities.

  • Head To Beach – It wouldn't be the summer holidays without a trip to the beach! Grab your bucket and spades, and head down to the coastal areas for a day of sun, sea and sand. Also, fresh Fish and chips on the beach is a must.
  • Go Camping – Camping Holiday's may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it is something we highly recommend. Get back to nature and spend a few days outdoors in the countryside.
  • Bike Riding – Find local riding routes in your town and spend the day with your feet on the pedals. Bike rides are hugely popular and sociable activity if done in groups.
  • Have a BBQ – It wouldn't be summer without a traditional BBQ. Get the coals hot, bang on the food and have a fun filled evening with your friend and family. You could even invite your teaching colleagues too!

Get Planning For The New School Year

Get Planning For The New School Year

As much as summer is the time for relaxing and unwinding, it's always best to get a head start for the new school term. With new classes, new pupils and maybe even a new role, we recommend the following in order to get you ready for the September term. Spend a no more than a few hours a week ensuring that your curriculum knowledge is up to date, your lessons are planned and your classroom displays are sorted. Getting ready for the new school year can get you buzzing for excitement for when you return to the classroom!

Use Your Skills To Help Others

Teacher and Student

Teachers are without a doubt, some of the most skilled and knowledgeable people who have the necessary tools to help others. If teachers have exhausted the above suggestions and are itching to get back into the classroom there is an array of opportunities to enable them to use their highly advanced skillset to make a difference. If you have a subject specialism, tutoring is one key way you can help a person over the summer break. Some students and even adults need additional support in order for them to progress on a particularly week area. Tutoring also allows you to earn additional income over the summer, giving you that little bit extra!

We'd love to hear your thoughts on Summer suggestions so do let us know in the comments or by getting in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

All Fun At The Always Flourishing Opening

  • Category: Always Flourishing Office News

Opening Office Image with Always Flourishing and Alok SharmaThe 1st Of July, 2016 marked the official opening of relocation of The Always Flourishing Office! To celebrate this company milestone, we invited a range of education professionals including teachers; school business managers as well as Local West Reading MP Alok Sharma.

With an extravagant spread of food as well as the all-important party décor the Always Flourishing team played host the numerous guests who attended.

To view pictures of our event, head to our Facebook gallery! 

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State of The Art New Office for Always Flourishing

  • Category: Always Flourishing Office News

The Front of Always Flourishing within Pangbourne BerkshireAlways flourishing are celebrating the opening of a brand new office in the heart of Pangbourne, Berkshire for Specialist Education recruitment and consultancy. The free opening event will take place on Friday 1st of July at 4:00 pm with local West Reading MP Alok Sharma cutting the Red Ribbon joined by a range of Education Professionals that work with Always Flourishing.

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Celebrating The School Nurse!

  • Category: Miscellaneous

Celebrating School Nurse DaySchools across the UK are made of an incredible team from teachers, classroom assistants, pastoral staff and many other important figures. But one thing every school has a place for is the school nurse.

Read more

New Infographic: Benefits of Supply Teaching

  • Category: Miscellaneous

Why should I become a supply teacher? Supply Teaching is a fantastic way of experiencing the very best of various schools and classrooms. Recently we blogged about all aspects of Supply Teaching in a great FAQ post 'The Supply Teacher Job FAQ'. We've complied all the great benefits of becoming a supply teacher in this fantastic teaching infographic. 

Benefits of Supply Teaching Infographic

Get Ready for Revising!

  • Category: Teaching Tips

Revision and Studying TipsEaster is nearly coming to a close and whilst that brings the advent of the summer term, it also bring something highly important to the forefront. The GCSE and A Level exams. Students across the country will be heavily preparing for these exams which have such a big influence on their chosen career path. 

Teachers will also be constantly aiding and supporting students to make sure they are ready for these life changing exams and with that comes the focus of revision.

Revision is a challenge for many as it can sometimes be deemed long and monotonous. Sometimes students feel they don’t benefit from revision, But with these fantastic revision tips, we can ensure that students and teachers will make the most of out of revising and hopefully will be prepared for the 2016 summer exams.

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The 3 Most Effective Tactics to Engage Your Students!

  • Category: Teaching Tips

You've seen it all before, you're teaching a class about a truly exciting subject. One that should inspire them. The lesson is planned meticulously and you hope that your student's revel in the information presented to them - But they don't. Instead, you have to fight for the attention of a group of students staring blankly at the ceiling or outside the window. Why aren't they interested? Why aren't they inspired?

In this blog we will detail how you can improve your student's level of engagement to create an exciting and progressive classroom atmosphere.

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Interview advice for teachers- How to ace your next interview!

  • Category: Teaching Tips

Interview Advice for your next Teaching JobFrom what you wear to the top questions asked. The Always Flourishing consultants; Andy, Becky and Laura, have provided the ultimate guide to great interview success for your next teaching role using their experiences with many local schools. This blog covers the many aspects of an interview from the preparation stages right the way through to questions you should ask your potential employers. 

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How Teachers Can Persevere

  • Category: Teaching Tips

Always Flourishing PerserveranceToday was a highly eventful morning in the Always Flourishing office especially as we had NO electricity whatsoever! We had no internet so we couldn't check our systems. We had no telephones so we couldn't answer any calls. We didn't even have heating! But Did this stop us from working full out to support our schools and candidates? Of course it didn't and by persevering we managed to continue on as best as possible and soon enough we were back in the warmth of our office.

The Always Flourishing Team working literally from home! 

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All change for Always Flourishing Education

  • Category: Always Flourishing Office News

A New Year calls for change in almost every person. Whether it is taking up a new hobby, finding a different job or learning a new skill, change seems very much at the forefront of people minds and Always Flourishing is no exception to this.

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Top tips for Improving Teacher Wellbeing

  • Category: Teaching Tips

Learn how you can implement these fantastic wellbeing activities for teachers with these brilliant gems of advice to maintain school staff wellbeing.

In recent years, there has been a significant emphasis on wellbeing for educators and people working in education. With many teachers unfortunately experiencing what is known as a "teacher burnout", we've browsed the web to provide you with the best tips and activities to improve your wellbeing and the wellbeing of other teachers.

Teacher Wellbeing Bags

Teacher Wellbeing Bags

The aim of these bags is to make staff feel valued and encourage a collaborative approach to teaching and learning across the curriculum areas. In an attempt to make staff feel welcome and confident I distributed the bags. They were an immediate hit! Each bag contained a personalised poster created quickly and easily using @RhonnaFarrer's design app.

The rest of the items included are listed below along with instructions for use:

• Cupcake cook book – set up a rota and get baking for department meetings.
• Star Stickies (Post It Notes) – write praise on these and leave them in places your colleagues will find them.
• Stickers – label lessons/ideas that worked well.
• Notepad – write down great teaching ideas on the go!
• Stickies (Post It Notes) – use these in department meetings to plan new schemes/lessons. Time-savers.
• Mints – to keep you cool when the going gets tough.
• Biscuits – for duty days and break times.
• Highlighters – to make your schemes of work stand out.
• Tissues – for those days. We all have them.
• Sweets – an energy boost for those afternoon triple lessons.
• Stamps – we all love stamps, right? For the full guide please head to Teacher Well-Being Bags

Improve your sleep

Improving Sleep for Teachers

A good night's sleep is the holy grail for today's generation of overworked and overstressed individuals. For teachers, a proper night's rest is particularly vital, especially when the next morning involves managing a classroom of excitable and children. But getting a full eight hours of slumber isn't as elusive as you might imagine. Here are simple and scientifically proven ways to beat insomnia.

Science tells us that how light or dark a room is at bedtime matters. Studies show that light can delay the production of melatonin, a chemical in the body that anticipates the daily onset of darkness. Another study by scientists at the University of Granada also found that sleeping in pitch black is important for the metabolism. To help make your room sleep conducive, it's worth investing in some blackout blinds or buying yourself an eye-mask. Another top tip is to dim the lights before you go to bed to signal to your body that darkness is setting in.

To discover more tips on how to improve your sleep please head The Guardian

Learn something new and share it with your students

Avoiding Teacher Burnout

Read an interesting book -- education or non-education related. I have been reading, The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got that Way from Amanda Ripley. It is interesting and education related, so I don't feel guilty about taking time away from lesson planning and grading. Read a classic that you have always wanted to read but never got around to reading. Watch a TED Talk or go to Iuniversity and find something interesting about brain research (that's what I like to explore anyway).

For even more step by step guides to improving wellbeing and reducing Teacher Burnout, head over to Edutopia

Be Active

Being Active as a School Teacher

Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups. Exercise is essential for slowing age-related cognitive decline and for promoting well-being. But it doesn't need to be particularly intense for you to feel good - slower-paced activities, such as walking, can have the benefit of encouraging social interactions as well providing some level of exercise.

Today, why not get physical? Here are a few ideas:

• Take the stairs not the lift
• Go for a walk at lunchtime (If permitted)
• Walk into work - perhaps with a colleague – so you can 'connect' as well
• Get off the bus one stop earlier than usual and walk the final part of your journey to work
• Organise a work sporting activity
• Have a kick-about in a local park
• Do some 'easy exercise', like stretching, before you leave for work in the morning
• Walk to someone's desk instead of calling or emailing.

For even more wellbeing in the workplace tips, please head to Mind. 

Laughter as a tonic

Improve Staff Wellbeing In Schools

Laughter is said to be good for the soul, but mind and body can also benefit. Frederika Roberts, co-founder of the RWS (Resilience Wellbeing Success) Programme says: "Companies could hold laughter yoga sessions at lunchtime or organise mini sessions before staff meetings. It doesn't cost much to send one or two members of staff on a two-day official training course to become a certified laughter yoga leader."

Discover more fantastic wellbeing tips by reading the whole article at The Guardian 

Getting the culture right

Ideas to Improve Teacher Wellbeing

It is important to have a working culture which allows teachers (and all staff) to feel they can talk about their stresses and worries. There is not a quick fix for this, but showing that you want to hear your colleagues' opinions is a good starting point. Making surveys anonymous, at least to start with, can encourage more staff to share their views than might otherwise be the case.

Another simple step is encouraging staff to take their breaks – preferably in a shared space where they can socialise with other members of staff – and discouraging them from staying for hours after the school day ends.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog on the top tips for Teacher Wellbeing, please like/follow our Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin accounts for the very latest in wellbeing and education news as well as Teaching Jobs within The Thames Valley.

The Experts Guide To Supply Teaching

  • Category: Miscellaneous

Kickstart Your Career In Supply Teaching! 

Supply TeachingThis blog was partially updated on the 10th October 2017 for improved accuracy and comprehensiveness.

 

As you probably know, a supply teacher covers lessons across the curriculum on a daily basis or short-term period in the absence of the timetabled class teacher. Supply teachers play a crucial part in ensuring the continuous progression in students' learning during these absences. However, what makes a supply teacher truly exceptional? How can current supply teachers make even more of an impact in the classroom?

How To Become A Supply Teacher

As outlined above, a supply teacher is a regular classroom teacher. Because of this, teachers must hold UK Qualified Teacher Status which can be obtained by a PGCE, Schools Direct, School-Centred Initial Teacher Training and various other routes into teaching as outlined by the Department of Education.

When a teacher opts for working on a supply basis, the easiest option they can do is to register with a teaching agency. Agencies are the most common way for teachers to find local work. As a supply teacher, your agency acts as your employer rather than the school, therefore it is important to form a positive working relationship with them in the same way you would strive to achieve this when working in a school.

Building A Relationship With Your Agency

  • Always keep your agency regularly informed of your availability for work. That way, they won't contact you with work assignments that you are unable to do.
  • Changes surrounding your work life and personal life are always inevitable, e.g. you may desire to go back to working on a long-term or permanent basis or you may have a new role starting shortly. Keep your agency in the loop so they can offer an additional level of support should you require it.
  • Communication is key. An education recruitment agency has many educational practitioners on their books and many schools require support from agency staff to cover their absences. Because of this, an agency proactively will get in touch with suitable candidates for each assignment. If you are looking for daily work, it is a good idea to keep your phone ready for any morning calls. In addition to this, your consultant may send you an email and text message with some important information on too.

What Are The Benefits Of Being A Supply Teacher?

There are many fantastic benefits and advantages of supply teaching which make it a highly desirable and favourable career choice for any Primary School or Secondary School teacher.

  • On a supply basis, you can choose which days you are available for work, giving you control over the hours you can fit in in relation to your lifestyle and circumstances.
  • Most supply teaching agencies operate locally, so you can easily obtain work without the stress of having to travel too long a distance.
  • As a supply teacher, you can earn a good income without all the full-time commitments of a regular class teacher such as planning, parents' evening, tests/exams and other additional responsibilities.
  • Whilst working on a supply basis, you can get a genuine feel and understanding of schools you aspire to teach in should they be recruiting for long-term or permanent, full or part-time teaching work.
  • Work assignments in schools vary greatly. One day you could be covering a Year 1 class focusing on Literacy and the following day you could be teaching an outdoor PE lesson with students in Year 4. Having this variety enables you to gain a huge insight into a school, plus emphasising your versatility as an education professional.

What Occasional Challenges Do Supply Teachers Face?

Supply Teaching, like many other teaching jobs, has its challenges but these can be easily managed and overcome with experience, knowledge and support from your teaching agency. One common challenge that has been brought to our attention is teachers can sometimes struggle with short notice bookings. Sometimes last minute assignments are taken and teachers can have a limited time period to prepare themselves as well as their chosen method of transport. In order to stop mornings being a mad rush to the school, ensure that you are prepared by leaving your clothes out the night before and that you have your phone ready for when your agency contacts you. Despite this, some supply bookings are booked well in advance giving you extra time to prepare yourself ready for a day teaching.

As a supply teacher, it's unfortunately quite common for students under your watch to play up and misbehave due to the absence of the regular class teacher. Being a fully trained teacher, you have a clear understanding of behaviour management so make sure that when you enter a classroom you outline your behaviour expectations. Don't forget to ask your school contact as to what their rewards and sanctions policy is to maintain consistency. 

Expectations Of A Supply Teacher

  • Turn up early for supply bookings so you can be introduced to the school Cover Manager as well as any key staff members or the Senior Leadership Team.
  • Ensure that students are fully engaged with the work and complete all activities as outlined in the lesson plan. If student's complete all tasks before the lesson has finished, set them additional stretch tasks. 
    • If the lesson relies on the use of a textbook, is there another activity they could complete?
    • If there is homework to be set in the lesson, why not have them start it?
    • If there is neither a textbook or homework, get in touch with the school Cover Manager or the department lead to obtain additional work.
  • Report back to the school Cover Manager with any examples of outstanding work and behaviour as well as any issues you encountered. 

What's The Difference Between A Cover Supervisor And A Supply Teacher?

We asked a number of school Cover Managers as to whether there was any difference in terms of the responsibilities and expectations of a Supply Teacher and a Cover Supervisor. They outlined that there was no difference in terms of the job that they do but only down to qualifications. A Cover Supervisor is an unqualified teacher but with previous experience teaching in a classroom setting. A Supply Teacher has Qualified Teacher Status but all duties are the same.

If you enjoyed this blog on Supply Teacher, do let us know in the comments or by contacting us on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google+.

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  • Category: Miscellaneous

The festive season is very much upon us and the Christmas Holidays are in full swing. 2016 is fast approaching and we have some fantastic suggestions for some terrific New Year's resolutions to enable you to get the most of 2016.

 

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  • Category: Always Flourishing Office News

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Nick Parker chaired our first meeting. Nick has been a qualified teacher for over 17 years who has also been a Deputy Head, a role which involved arranging and managing emergency and planned cover. He now focuses on HR management with a particular interest in the Education sector. A full overview of the content of event presentation is available to all Cover Managers on request. Topics covered included:

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  • Category: Always Flourishing Office News

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  • Category: Always Flourishing Office News

Always Flourishing Launch A New Networking Event For School Cover Managers in The Thames Valley!

This blog was partially updated on the 23rd November 2016 for improved accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

New Cover Club Listening to local Primary and Secondary schools across Berkshire and Oxfordshire is part of what makes Always Flourishing's approach to education recruitment distinctively refreshing . A number of cover managers and school recruitment associates we work with asked for our advice on best practice advice in other schools around maintaining cover, managing agencies and getting not only quality but good value supply teachers in to cover lessons. 

Our expert team of education consultants are always happy to share our experiences with local schools but as a collective, we felt that offering something more innovative to cover managers in schools might be of a greater benefit.

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Additionally, we will be inviting an experienced guest speaker from the eduaction sector to each event to a short presentation on a topic that is relevant to your day to day role in recruiting school staff members. 

The next event will be held in term two but there will be limited numbers for membership so if you would like to register your interest in joining the 'Cover Club',  please contact our organiser Laura Arnott on 01189 842413 or email laura@alwaysflourishing.com                

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  • Category: Miscellaneous

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  • Category: Always Flourishing Office News

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